Flora” is a joint Exhibition introducing two new artists to the Hive Gallery. Helen Masin has captured the native flora extending predominantly from the Bellarine region, to her home in Gippsland, in oil and stunning simplicity. Francesca Sykes has questioned the effect of bushfire on our flora with a lens of hope portrayed in the green shoots that appear on the blackened trunks.

As a painter, Helen Masin does not feel the need to make grand political statements with her art. Instead, she has a longing to create pieces to remind us that unassuming beauty is still significant in today’s ever increasing chaotic world. She believes society has lost the art of seeing; we’ve become too busy and forgotten how to look beyond the screen.

During the painting of this series of native flower pieces Helen herself was going through her own personal chaos and each piece is signifies a moment in time or an emotional response. Painting became a distraction, bringing calmness, sense of hopefulness and peace. Her practice allows her to recharge her life. Helen hopes that the viewer can find their own little peace and quiet in her work.

The work also reflects Helen’s appetite for colour, texture and light. Her style is undoubtedly influenced by her earlier photographic studies through her careful analysis of her subjects. She uses primarily acrylics and work from her home studio in regional Victoria.

Francesca Sykes is a Furniture Designer/Maker with a background in Interior Design. Through her work Francesca seeks to question and redefine traditional furniture and object archetypes to suit contemporary needs. Always asking “what if”, her work examines human interaction with the built environment, seeking to create functional forms that surprise and delight. Her previous projects have responded to themes of sustainability through the development of new biodegradable and upcycled materials.

Bloom after Burning” is a series of wooden vases, developed by Francesca as a reflection on the Australian Bushfires in 2019-20 and the rejuvenation of native forest as it blooms back to life after burning.

Each vase is ebonized to highlight the organic wood grain features unique to each piece of wood. The artist uses a repeated process of burning and then washing the wood to “weather” the wood using natural weathering forces of fire and water. This process draws on the Japanese practice of shou sugi ban, a traditional technique to burn and preserve the wood used for houses.

Bloom after Burning vases are made from the industry-standard radiata pine that is ubiquitous in Australian-built houses. Sourced from building supply yards, the burnt pine posts echo the homes lost through wildfire. Just as the bush blooms back to life again again, these vases invite reflection of the human spirit and survivors who rebuild after a bushfire.

Any piece from the Bloom after Burning series can be combined together to create a new assemblage of form and florals. Each vase includes a small removable glass tube to keep flowers fresh in water.